I can remember the night before my 29th birthday vividly. My friend, who’s two years older than me almost to the day, was channeling her inner therapist while I sobbed about the end of my 20s being in sight. I felt like I had wasted the decade (which is SO not true) because I was totally single and hadn’t made millions yet. Little did I know that the best was yet to come. Since I’m approaching yet another birthday in two months (32!!), I thought I would compile a little list to remind myself and y’all that wowsa.. These are good years.
You know who you are. I never understood the phrase “finding yourself” until I had a little career/emotional/identity crisis around age 24. I decided I hated the 9-5 and up and quit without much of a plan in sight (fast forward to now–I adore the consistency of the 9-5). This, however, was the biggest blessing in disguise. I went to grad school, moved in to a house with four other girls from college to save money, and had an absolute blast. I went from paying $1200 a month in rent to less than $500, nannied when I could, realized that I do, in fact, love education, got a job at an amazing little parish school for two years and ultimately saved enough money to buy my condo. I did a little bit of dating in that time, but it wasn’t my focus. We lived a few doors down from some guys we went to college with, and hung out with them on the weekends. While I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to that phase of my life, it was an amazing time that really helped me to figure out what I was wanting from life.
You (and your friends) have more money now. While I never had any student debt (and I still thank my parents constantly for that fact), just about everyone in my social life did. They spent their entire 20s paying off thousands of dollars and now most of them are (finally) through. Now we do things like European vacations rather than little weekend trips to each others’ parents’ houses, and it’s pretty amazing. Conversations like, “Want to hop on a flight to Florida this weekend?” and the answer being, “SURE!” was never in the realm of possibility back in my 20s.
You can start thinking about big-ticket things. Where DO you want to raise your kids? Have a vacation house? It’s really exciting to start thinking about things on a more permanent scale.
Still single? Getting married (and having kids) in your 30s will be SO much easier financially than in your 20s. While there are certainly merits to getting married young (I am very formed and very stuck in my ways.. It’s going to be tough!), I love the idea that everything from hiring babysitters to fancy nights out on the town are going to be that much easier.
You don’t hate your parents anymore. While I didn’t hate my parents in my 20s, I certainly relished in my independence and visited home as little as possible… Today, I call my dad for financial advice ALL the time, visit Ohio as much as humanly possible, and actually, sincerely enjoy their company. I guess for me, my 20s was a time to prove to them that I have my shit together.. And in my 30s I’ve realized that I never truly will, and that’s OK.
The superficiality is over. I found it so liberating to finally admit to myself and the rest of the universe that, no, I don’t love the night life and I never have. In my 20s, I often felt pressured to get all gussied up and stay out in the swanky areas of D.C. until all hours of the night, spending hundreds of dollars that I didn’t have.. Now, I will gladly admit that I abhor all of the above. Those high heels are SO uncomfortable, I value my sleep, and would much rather spend that money on other things. Give me a morning hike, an afternoon at a winery, and a 10:00 bedtime, and I’m happy as a clam. Also, the girl competition is sooooo over now, and it’s awesome. Rather than get a little jealous of friends’ engagements, having babies, job victories, and lavish vacations.. My gosh, am I elated for them!
I remember the night of my 30th birthday, my friend put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Britt, you couldn’t pay me to go back to my 20s; 30s are so much better.” I didn’t entirely believe him at the time, but know now that that couldn’t have been more true. This is SO much better, and I look forward to what is to come.